BY ELIZABETH JENKINS
If you’ve ever made this statement to someone before… this public service announcement is for you. Please, do everyone a favor and refrain from ever doing it again. Why? First and foremost, because you don’t know each person’s situation. What if he’s lost weight because he is very sick? Or has a spouse, parent or child that is very sick? What if she is battling an eating disorder? What if, in fact, she has not lost any weight? If she has not lost any weight, but you make the comment that it looks like she has, and it seems insincere and something that you say to everyone as a “compliment.” And even if she has lost weight, you bringing attention to it can make it appear that you think she used to weigh too much.
I firmly believe that most everyone who says this has the sincere intention of giving a nice compliment. I doubt anyone makes this comment with the thought that she is purposely hurting someone’s feelings. Regardless, I ask that you consider other compliments to offer people when you see them. In fact, I would recommend not using the word “weight” at all when complimenting someone.
When you do make the decision to give someone a compliment, be sure it is sincere. An insincere compliment is worse than no compliment at all. Perhaps her hair looks nice, or you love his shoes. Better yet, make it a compliment that has nothing to do with outer appearance. Tell her that you so enjoyed her hosting you at her beautiful home last weekend or you couldn’t get enough of reading his new blog.
We need to take the focus off of weight and stop acting like that is the ultimate compliment. While a healthy weight is important, how much we weigh should not be the ultimate focus. Bringing a lot of attention to it, in my opinion, usually does more harm than good.
If someone has, in fact, lost weight (through diet and exercise) and he or she does open up that conversation with you, by all means, compliment away! Tell her how proud you are of her, or ask him what he is doing to lose the weight. Refrain from giving your personal weight loss or diet advice (unless it is asked for) or saying things like, “I can’t believe how great you look!” There is nothing wrong with supporting someone on his or her weight loss journey, but realize that it’s a thin line and erring on the side of caution is always a good idea.
Oh, and one more public service announcement for you… please, please don’t ever ask someone if she is pregnant. No matter how pregnant she may appear to be, just don’t do it. I can think of few things more uncomfortable than asking a non-pregnant woman if she is pregnant. It’s an embarrassing situation on both ends and is an easily avoidable position.